This year’s Brownedge Parish and Community Festival was another success, held over the week of 5 – 11 May. Festival was opened on the Saturday afternoon (5 May) by the Mayor of South Ribble, Cllr Mick Titherington, accompanied by his consort, wife Carole. The Mayor also presented the awards and prizes for the annual art and photography competitions which, as always, attracted entries of a very high standard. Festival was first held in 2000 to mark the completion of a major refurbishment of St Mary’s Church, Brownedge, Bamber Bridge and, since then, has been held on an annual basis. Every year there is an open art competition and also a digital photography competition. This year, 221 entries were received for the art competition and 96 entries for the digital photography competition. All of the art and photographs were displayed in the Church during Festival week and the Church was decorated with beautiful floral displays, many arranged by ladies of neighbouring Churches.
The Church was open during each afternoon for visitors to come and have a look around the beautiful and historic building with its fine stained glass windows. As well as admiring the art, photography and flowers, visitors could also take part in the interactive art project, ‘Paint to the Beat’, and enjoy refreshments. Each day, at least one event was held, sometimes two. This year, evening concerts were given by the Company of Voyces and, a regular Festival favourite, Fr Colin and Friends. There was a talk by local historian, Bill Brierley, on Bamber Bridge and the Great War, and a showing of the film ‘Catholicism’, together with a performance of the poignant and moving one act play, ‘Searching for Matthew’, which tells the story of St Mary’s, Brownedge parishioner, Lizzie Livesey, who travelled to France in the aftermath of the Great War to look for the grave of her brother, Matthew, who had been killed in action. A well-attended ecumenical songs of praise was held involving choirs from neighbouring Churches and, on the Sunday afternoon, there was Solemn Benediction. Pupils of St Mary’s and St Benedict’s RC School, Bamber Bridge and Walton-le-dale Primary School, Severn Drive, each performed on two of the afternoons. Festival will return in 2019 for its 20th anniversary.